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Water Wells First losing patience waiting for investigation

Water Wells First has lost its patience waiting for a promised health hazard investigation to begin into private water well problems experienced by landowners in the North Kent wind project area.

During the election campaign, earlier this year, the Progressive Conservatives promised to order a health hazard investigation into the impact the North Kent Wind project is having on water wells, if elected.

Kevin Jakubec, spokesperson for the citizen group, said samples of sediments found in the water wells of residents living in the North Kent area were delivered to the Toronto office of Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer, on Tuesday.

“We don’t want a whitewash,” he said. “We’re really critical.”

He said the concern is Williams is only going to be looking at the data collected by the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks, because it refused to collect or examine at any sediment samples from local wells when concerns were raised about them being clogged with sediments.

The more than 30 industrial wind turbines that make up North Kent Wind, owned by Korean industrial giant Samsung and American partner Pattern Energy, were erected by driving piles into the Kettle Point black shale bedrock.

Water Wells First has spent more than two years raising the alarm about the potential impact the vibration from construction and operation of the wind farm has had in causing particles of Kettle Point black shale – known to contain heavy metals such as lead, arsenic and mercury – to go into the ground water. The group’s testing shows this is the sediment that is clogging the water wells of several landowners in the area.

Although the wind farm has been operating for months, Jakubec said, “People are still coping with this problem, the black shale is still coming out of the taps.”

Monte McNaughton (PC Lambton-Kent-Middlesex), whose riding North Kent Wind is located, was unavailable for comment on Wednesday.

McNaughton, who is also the Minister of Infrastructure, has previously told The Chatham Daily News that Ontario’s health ministry has directed the chief medical officer to review data on past collections.

He also noted the review of data is just the beginning of the process the government “is going to get to the bottom of the situation.”

However, Jakubec said affected landowners are angry and want to see action.

“They should be announcing who the chief investigator is,” he said, adding that person should be a toxicologist.

Jakubec said some residents have spent thousands of dollars on filtration systems that are also collecting data on the sediments being collected.

“We can give that to a toxicologist to look for the amount of sediment load.”

Jakubec believes there’s a new paradigm when it comes to the protection of water.

“We have traditionally looked for government to enforce water safety and water security,” he said.

However, he believes there is now two governments – under the Liberal and PCs – and two branches of the government – the environment and health ministries – that have failed, so far, to get to take action on what is happening with the water wells in the area.

“The reality hits you, we’re in a new paradigm,” Jakubec said. “You can no longer expect government to protect your water security. It’s really disconcerting.”